Yesterday I had my monthly Lay Dominican meeting. During Mass, the Homily focused on prayer. Father talked about how we can underestimate the power of prayer and that it is essential to the Christian life. It is the focus, along with the Sacraments, of the Christian path. It was then that I felt like God was smacking me over the head with a hammer. All week, I have heard the Spirit and my Guardian Angel, whispering to me to pray. When I get stressed out, pray. When the world is too much to take, pray. When someone I love is struggling, pray. While doing the dishes, pray. Folding laundry, pray. Scheduling my day, pray. Better yet, schedule my day around prayer. So that is why St. Paul said to “pray without ceasing”. I can be a little slow on the uptake sometimes.
Working my way to being received in the Lay Order of Preachers, means that prayer is what my day centers upon. I start the morning with Lauds, go to Mass when possible, which is not quite as easy with a 2 year old, spend time in Scripture, pray a Rosary (I also like to add in Divine Mercy when I can), and then the evening with Vespers. There is a natural rhythm to living this way, and yes, it is even possible with a toddler and a husband to take care of. It just means that certain activities that I enjoy, or that control me, get less time. For instance, the more I focus on prayer and study, the more I become disinterested in television. After all, reading a book about Church history or Jesus Christ is way more interesting and enjoyable than the trash that is on TV these days. Yes, I am a nerd and proud of it!
As I get older, I have begun to realize that the only thing I can control in life is how I react to things. The world has always been a bloody and Fallen place. Pick up any history book and you will see that man is a violent thing. As Father said in his Homily yesterday, Adam and Eve fell and left the garden. What followed? Violence and murder through Cain and Abel. That is why God had to come and die for us. He knew that our sinful and violent tendencies could not be saved by anything less than his total selfless love. Think about it. We killed God and He came back in forgiving love (see Fr. Barron’s Catholicism series). That goes against everything we know as human beings because we lack forgiveness ourselves.
How I react to my day-to-day affairs is directly tied to my prayer life. If my prayer life is suffering, my family, and I suffer. In forgetting to pray, I forget to give my life to God. When I try to be my own centering force, the whole thing unravels. My sins and temptations get the better of me and then my shame and guilt take over. When I persevere, and yes, it requires great perseverance, in prayer, I am strengthened and reminded of God’s goodness and love. I also remember his mercy in my own life and in other people’s lives. I need to work hard to listen to the promptings of the Spirit. The sloth in me wants to be distracted by Facebook, Twitter, my chores, and everything else. In allowing those things to take me from my true purpose, I allow my vocation to suffer because I am not paying attention to my family, and my relationship with God suffers. It is a great struggle for me. Sloth, or the noon-day devil, as they called it in the Middle Ages, is a constant battle. There are so many “more” interesting things that I would rather be doing than praying. But, the truth of the matter is that when I commit myself to prayer, the better I become.
How is your prayer life? Are there things that you could do to improve it? Does your prayer life directly impact your vocation?